After TheaterJones ran the initial story about allegations made against former Dallas Theater Center employee Lee Trull, TJ editor Mark Lowry received a statement from a woman with a story of her own. That woman, Claire Moore, shared her account without prompting, but preferred that if we proceeded with it, it be anonymous.
At the time, we did not have immediate plans to run a follow-up about Trull and the allegations. When TheaterJones heard that The Dallas Morning News was conducting an investigation of their own, Mark Lowry asked for Moore’s permission to share her name with the DMN reporter in hopes that her story could yield some sort of result. Moore agreed without hesitation.
Many in the Dallas theater community were disheartened and disappointed by the tone of the DMN article about Trull. Some felt it gave him too much of a voice, and at the very least found the gratuitous photo shoot of him triggering and in poor taste.
In the case of Moore’s allegation, it seemed to gloss over the severity of what she had shared. The DMN’s reporting of Moore’s account was, “The next thing she remembers is coming out of her blackout while she and Trull were having sex.” It continues, “Moore believes she was too drunk to consent.”
An allegation of rape was in the middle of a story about Trull’s pondering what happens to him now.
The Dallas Morning News profile missed the point in several ways, the major one of which is that it was an exploration of Lee Trull’s feelings. Though the piece let him to more damage to himself with his own comments, it was a disservice to the victims whose voices were not featured in the ways they had hoped or were led to believe.
Here are Claire Moore’s own words about her experiences with Lee Trull. Here, we have asked a victim to relive her trauma again. Unfortunately, this repetition will be needed until everyone understands that the effects of the #metoo movement are far-reaching and that the stories, the traumas, don’t end after someone is called out. It bears repeating again and again that the victims deserve to have their voices heard after a trauma as a necessary part of healing. It is not their responsibility to contemplate the consequences of their abuser’s behavior.
Moore agreed to speak about this trauma to TheaterJones. It is unfair to ask victims of rape and sexual assault to continue to react to their abusers, but like Laura Hix and others who have gone on the record, especially since the DMN story, Moore feels strongly that her story could help someone, just as the victims’ stories helped her realize that she was not alone.
TheaterJones: When and how did you meet Lee Trull?
Claire Moore: I met Lee in 2009 or 2010. I had returned to Dallas from NYC a couple years after college to be with my family as my father was very ill.
In the DMN piece, Trull disputes that you met at the audition and says it was through a mutual friend.
That is not true. I even verified this with the friend in question to make sure I wasn’t misremembering. She unequivocally denies introducing us. I met him at DTC’s general auditions.
How did your relationship with Trull continue after this audition?
He messaged me via Facebook to say he really enjoyed my audition and asked me to get a drink. I assumed this was to discuss my career, but the conversation was flirtatious. I was OK with it maybe being kind of a date. I remember telling my mother at the time that I was meeting the casting director of DTC, I was very excited. At the time, I was too naive to realize how completely inappropriate this sort of meeting was.
What happened that night?
After the bar, we had consensual sex at his house. I assumed we were both single and having fun. I tried not to take it too seriously, but also wondered if we might see each other again. He messaged me saying our “tryst” had caused quite a bit of conflict. I found out that the conflict in question was with, I assume, his longtime girlfriend whose existence I was completely unaware of. I felt incredibly embarrassed, used, and ashamed. I did my best to blow it off and move forward with pursuing theater in DFW.
How were things after that night?
The relationship was cool and cautiously flirty on my part. I kept in touch with him because I hoped to work at DTC at some point. I’d occasionally ask him for career advice.
Things changed with that, though. Do you mind talking me through what happened?
My dad passed away in 2010. Not too long after that, I believe early 2011, we met up again for drinks. I met him at a bar by my house on Lower Greenville. I was hanging by a thread and I was just not dealing with my dad’s death well at all. I was a wreck and anyone could see that. I was in a very destructive relationship with a co-worker at the time, and we were in the middle of one of our many break-ups.
Did Lee know your dad had died?
I posted about it on Facebook. If he had seen any of my social media he would have known.
What happened after the bar that night?
I got very drunk and knew I needed help getting home. He helped me back to my house. I was told by my roommate at the time that I was not able to walk without support. I recall going into my room, which was off the kitchen, and passing out. My roommate had some friends over that evening and according to her Lee came back out of my bedroom and she voiced concern. His response was that everything was fine and returned to my room.
Do you remember any of the rest of the night?
I remember getting into bed. I blacked out, and remember coming out of the blackout to him inside of me. I thought, “This will be over soon,” and blacked out again.
In the morning, Lee was still there. He asked me for oral sex. I said no and he left. I can’t remember if I threw up while he was still there or not.
Did you talk to him?
He texted my roommate later that day to ask if I was OK. I believe he was checking the feel of things with her. To see if we were talking about it for what it was: rape. I know on some level he knew he had done something wrong.
Did you tell anyone?
My roommate and I did have a conversation and she could tell I was upset but we did not call it rape. I buried this for a long time. I didn’t tell anyone this story until several years later when I was back in NYC with a group of women, some of whom had worked at DTC. His name came up. My story came pouring out of me. That night was the first time I called it rape. I had no idea that he was this known predator, that other women had been harassed, abused, and assaulted by him. I really thought I was the only one this had ever happened to. I can see so clearly now that this is what predators do. I knew very few people in the professional Dallas theater community when he first reached out to me on Facebook. I was in a way isolated and vulnerable. I was a perfect target.
Why do you think you were afraid to call it that?
The conversation surrounding consent has changed so much over the past few years and exponentially in recent months. I hate saying this, but I think on some level I thought it was my fault. I went to meet him, I drank too much, I had slept with him before. This was always in my mind when I would think about this night. I think as a society and individually we want to keep horrific things like rape in black and white. It is hard to talk about the gray area. It is confusing and painful. I know that to stop this kind of behavior we have to keep having these conversations. It is uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about my sex life in a national newspaper. Trust me, I would have preferred not to. The fact is Lee Trull made a decision about my body that night when I could not. I want women and men to know that because you say yes once it does not mean yes every time, and it is never your fault. Shame is a powerful ally of these kind of abuses, and encourages silence. We have to keep talking.
How did this incident change things for you?
My confidence was shattered. I was probably too confident in my early years in all honesty. When I first came back to DFW after college I was booking or at least getting callbacks on most of the auditions I attended. After this, I really didn't audition. The few I went to I felt like a shell of myself. For a very long time I wasn’t sure I wanted to perform anymore, or worse, that I was capable. I realize now that this was a form of PTSD.
Was this the end of your relationship with him?
After I moved back to NYC we would occasionally message when he was in the city. He told me he was working at The Public Theater. We never saw each other, but even then I felt I had to be nice and keep up contact because now he is here in NYC at another huge and important theater.
How did you feel when you read the profile of him in the Dallas Morning News?
I couldn’t believe it. To this day, I have read it once. I was disgusted but not surprised when I heard he wanted to “clear his name” and tell “his side.” I was also led to believe he was going to apologize. I was terrified that he would be forgiven and placed in a position of power over women again. I felt compelled to allow the use of my story. The reporter was kind and professional. I am choosing to believe what she told me, that she wanted to give a voice to the women that had been affected. I wish that they had focused on consent, and what has happened to the women who have come forward. I would have been proud to have been a part of an article that furthered that conversation. It was framed to me that Trull wanted to apologize. The article was not an apology. So, I wonder, what was the point of the article? Why did I have to talk about one of the worst nights of my life in a newspaper? I still don’t understand why he got a photoshoot. There were so many pictures of him.
What do you think Trull meant when he said he couldn’t respond to your statement because he would only hurl more allegations?
He must think I wanted to have sex with him. I was so drunk that I could not even get home, and I was clearly an emotional wreck. I don’t understand how someone could have derived my consent that night. He doesn’t accept his own responsibility in that situation.
What do you want now that this is out there?
I want to continue having conversations like these, not about my trauma, but on a larger scale about how to make sure this doesn't happen over and over again. Personally, I want to move on. I don’t want this to be on the forefront of my day. I am now realizing that this has been a reckoning, and I’m seeing how much hurt has been caused by this kind of behavior.
This has been so hard; some days I questioned why I had to do this. There are other women, I would think, who had much worse things happen to them. They deserved to have their stories in the paper and have their voices heard, not me. However, I have been given an opportunity to stand tall and proud, and say it’s not my fault, I didn’t deserve it. No one does. I am speaking my truth not just for myself but for the women I know personally that have opened up to me with similar experiences and those I don’t. I think there is a great opportunity here to affect change. I want to hear women’s voices on these issues in songs, shows, and print. Specifically, I want a female Artistic Director of Dallas Theater Center. I think the women of the Dallas arts community are owed that. Let’s move forward, listen, learn, and get to work.
» Claire Moore is a singer, actress, and feminist living in NYC.